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Introduction

Association football is the most popular sport in England, where the first modern set of rules for the code were established in 1863, which were a major influence on the development of the modern Laws of the Game. With over 40,000 association football clubs, England has more clubs involved in the code than any other country as well as the world's first club (Sheffield F.C.), the world's oldest professional association football club (Notts County F.C), the oldest national governing body (the Football Association), the first national team, the oldest national knockout competition (the FA Cup) and the oldest national league (the English Football League). Today England's top domestic league, the Premier League, is one of the most popular and richest sports leagues in the world, with six of the ten richest football clubs in the world as of 2019.

The England national football team is one of only eight teams to win the World Cup, in 1966. A total of five English club teams have won the UEFA Champions League (European Cup).

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New Brompton F.C. (later Gillingham F.C.) in 1894.
Gillingham Football Club is an English professional football club based in the town of Gillingham, Kent, currently playing in the Football League One. The only Kent-based club in the Football League, they play their home matches at KRBS Priestfield Stadium.

The club was founded in 1893 and joined the Football League in 1920. They were voted out of the league in favour of Ipswich Town at the end of the 1937–38 season, but returned to it 12 years later after it was expanded from 88 to 92 clubs. Twice in the late 1980s they came close to winning promotion to the second tier of English football, but a decline then set in and in 1993 they narrowly avoided relegation to the Football Conference. Between 2000 and 2005, Gillingham were in the second tier of the English league for the only time in their history, achieving a club record highest league finish of eleventh place in 2002–03.

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Statue of the 1966 World Cup winning England side

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Playoff final in 2006 at the Millennium Stadium
The Football League is a league competition featuring professional football clubs from England and Wales, and is the oldest such competition in world football. Its 72 clubs are evenly divided into three divisions, The Championship, League One, and League Two. Promotion and relegation between these divisions is a central feature of the League and is further extended to allow the top Championship clubs to exchange places with the lowest placed clubs in the Premier League, and the bottom clubs of League Two to switch with the top clubs of the Football Conference, thus integrating the League into the English football league system. Although primarily a competition for English clubs, three clubs from Wales also take part.

The Football League is also the name of the governing body of the league competition and this body also organises two knockout cup competitions, the Football League Cup and the Football League Trophy.

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Teams line-up before the 2006 FA Cup Final
Credit: Egghead06

The opening ceremony for the 2006 FA Cup Final between Liverpool and West Ham. This was the 125th time the trophy was contested and the last time the final was held in the Millennium Stadium before returning to Wembley in 2007. The score was 3-3 after extra time and the game was decided by a penalty shootout in which Liverpool won the cup for the seventh time in their history.

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